Smuggled and promoted by Hezbollah affiliates and protected by regime officers | Alarming escalation of drug dealing in Al-Suwaidaa
Rampant narcotics business tops the events in regime-held areas with illicit pills and “hashish” having become readily available and are sold in public in Damascus, as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has addressed this phenomenon in earlier reports.
In south Syria, however, particularly in Al-Suwaidaa, SOHR activists have reported that “hashish” has also become readily available for young men and teenagers in recent time. According to the sources, “hashish” is promoted by drug dealers affiliated with officers in Hezbollah-backed military security service, as the Lebanese Hezbollah seems satisfied with turning Syria into a major hotbed for dealing in and exporting drugs.
Delivering drugs to Al-Suwaidaa
Escorted by guards of military groups of regime security services which are affiliated with the Lebanese Hezbollah, trucks carrying drugs set off from Baalbek area in Lebanon and head to the barren mountains of Qalamoun then to Al-Suwaidaa province in south Syria region where the drugs are stored in warehouses. These drugs later are smuggled to Jordan or sold in Al-Suwaidaa province which experiences a state of security instability.
Smuggling drugs to Jordan
Sources in Al-Suwaidaa province have informed SOHR that drugs of the Lebanese Hezbollah are being smuggled to Jordan, where such smuggling operations noticeably escalates in winter when smugglers sneak, under a cover of fogs, from Wadi Khazmah area in the southern countryside of Al-Suwaidaa into Jordanian territory with large amounts of drugs.
Drug dealing in Al-Suwaidaa
Drugs are sold publicly throughout Al-Suwaidaa province, as they are available in mini-markets, tobacco stalls and other stalls on main and side streets, as well as by dealers everywhere in the province’s towns.
It is worth noting that a kilo of hashish is sold for 300,000 to 400,000 SYL, equivalent to 110 USD. In Jordan, however, hashish is sold to dealers for 250 USD per kilo.
Jordanian guard forces had frequently clashed with smugglers, while attempting to sneak with hashish from south Syria to Jordan with coordination with Jordanian smugglers. In addition, Jordanian security services have confiscated large amounts of narcotics smuggled from Syria to Jordan. However, SOHR confirms that smuggling of hashish and illicit pills from Syria to Jordan is still in progress.
In November, SOHR sources reported that illicit pills and “hashish” became readily available and were sold in public in areas under the control of the Syrian regime and its proxy militias, Damascus in particular, as regime authorities were unable to deal with chronic crises such as economic hardship, lack of job opportunities, inflation, acute shortage of fuel and bread, poor transportation service and electricity blackouts.
According to SOHR activists, residents in Damascus were concerned over this phenomenon, the selling of narcotics in public, as it became so easy for their sons to get Captagon and hash, with such substances being readily available in stalls selling tobacco, cigarettes and coffee. These stalls were prevalent in almost all streets of the capital, Damascus, while their owners were informants affiliated with the regime’s security services or individuals who were backed by regime officers before the start of the “Syrian Revolution”. The owners of these stalls had sold cigarettes and snacks, before they turned to narcotics business, as hashish illicit pills were sold in public in many neighbourhoods and districts in Damascus and Rif Dimashq like Kafr Susah, Al-Mazzah, Bab Serijah, the Old Damascus, Bab Touma, Al-Sha’laan Al-Baramekah and Jisr Al-Ra’ees.
Moreover, dealers were everywhere in residential neighbourhoods, crowded areas and at bus stations where they sold drugs to passengers with no workable procedures adopted to prosecute them. Sometimes, regime security services launched symbolic patrols for minutes during which the dealers hid or changed their places. On some occasions, dealers were arrested during their patrols, but they could be freed after paying bribes reached to 20,000 SYL to a patrol’s members.
How were Captagon and hashish delivered to dealers in Damascus?
According to reliable SOHR sources, most of narcotics obtained by the dealers and stalls’ owners in Damascus were delivered by members working for the National Defence Forces (NDF) and individuals having strong ties with regime officers. It is worth noting that the sources of illicit pills were the factories which were prevalent in areas on the Syria-Lebanon border. While hashish was brought from Lebanon by individuals affiliated with the Lebanese Hezbollah, before it was distributed to regime and NDF officers and commanders who sold and deliver it to their affiliates.
Accordingly, narcotics trafficking was turned into business run by influential figures, including regime officers and Hezbollah commanders. For years, smuggling operations in Syria continued whether by sea through Tartus harbour which is dominated by the Russians and Latakia harbour a share of which possessed by Iran, or by land along the border strip with Iraq and with Lebanon where the Lebanese Hezbollah and Iranian-backed militias imposed their influence almost completely.
We, at the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, have been all along warned against the disastrous situation in Syria with the Syrian regime adhering only to power, disregarding the sufferings of the Syrian people. The Syrian Observatory would like to point out to the threats posed by the prevalence of drugs across the entire Syrian geography, particularly regime-held areas. We also renew our appeal to the international community not to abandon their responsibility and obligations to finding a lasting solution to the tragedy of millions of Syrians.